Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Out-Wronging One Another (like that works)

Last week there was a new and disturbing twist in the Central High School tree cutting scandal. The parents of the boys who pulled off the “prank” received a threatening letter and they were told to “watch their backs”.

I wrote about this scandal a couple of weeks ago in my blog titled, “When Did We Become So Unforgiving?” A handful of high school seniors cut down two trees on their campus and although they repented, served their suspension time, and are paying for the damage, the school is not allowing them back into class (despite a judge’s order that they do so).

So, now someone has decided to harshly judge the parents of the boys for raising hooligans, and they do so in a rambling letter that oozes anger and venom. The letter writer threatened to harm these families. This incident reminds me of the people who bomb abortion clinics and kill abortion doctors. As cliché it sounds, it is true that two wrongs do not make a right. What happens in the brain when someone decides to express their anger or disagreement through violent and law-breaking means? I won’t pretend that I don’t understand that kind of anger—because I do. But wreaking havoc will destroy only me.

The boys who chopped down the trees will (hopefully) learn from their extremely bad choice and will grow to be respectful and law-abiding men who contribute good things to society. When the person who wrote the threatening letter is caught (and they will be) their punishment will be far worse than that of the tree-cutters. They may even serve jail time.

There are ways to effectively express our disappointment and anger. I often say that bad things happen to good people so that good people will rise up and effect change. Candice Lightner from Irving, Texas experienced excruciating sadness and outrage when a drunk driver killed her 13 year-old daughter. Candice did not, however, resort to threats and terrorism, but rather she channeled her grief and anger and started the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD. Through her efforts and education an untold number of lives have been saved.

Intimidation and shakedowns rarely work and more often than not they lead to mayhem and more grief. I KNOW what it is to feel passionately about righting wrongs, but out-wronging won’t work.

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